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Wanted! Educational innovations for the Comenius Leadership Fellowship and the Dutch Higher Education Award

29 April 2022

Do you have ambitious innovation plans that will benefit more than just the students of your own degree programme or faculty? Or are you aware of an outstanding educational innovation that has already been developed on a small scale and would be valuable for the whole university? If so, you can nominate this educational initiative by contacting Anna Terra Verhage, policy adviser at Strategy & Academic Affairs, by 16 May at the latest.

Why are we requesting nominations?

Every year, the university submits two exceptional nominations for grants that celebrate innovation in education. These grants are the

  • Comenius Leadership Fellowship and
  • the Dutch Higher Education Award.

Both grants are awarded specifically for exceptional educational innovations designed by passionate educational teams that have the potential to improve higher education.

The initiatives should preferably already have been implemented on a small or medium scale and, using the funding associated with the Comenius Leadership Fellowship or a Dutch Higher Education Award, they should be capable of being rolled out to other faculties, the entire university and/or even to other higher education institutions over a period of three to five years.

This year, we have decided to request submissions earlier in the year – even before the official call has been issued and the invitation has been received. This will allow us to provide timely support in the preparation of the nominations.

The initiatives nominated will be considered by the Rector and Vice-Deans to be submitted as nominations from our university for the Comenius Leadership Fellowship or the Dutch Higher Education Award in the forthcoming round (2023) just after the summer or for a future round. So, don't hesitate to submit your educational innovation!


If you have any questions, feel free to contact Anna Terra Verhage (Strategy & Academic Affairs) at a.t.j.verhage@bb.leidenuniv.nl, on 06 48364407 or via Teams.

Please submit a brief description (approx. one and a half A4 pages) of the educational innovation to a.t.j.verhage@bb.leidenuniv.nl by 16 May at the latest. Make sure your description covers the following aspects:

  • The purpose. What problem in today's higher education system does the innovation aim to solve? What is the intended result? To what extent is this an improvement for students compared to the current situation?
  • The method and its innovative character. What exactly is the innovation? In what ways is the proposal innovative compared to the current situation in Dutch higher education?
  • What are the theories, models and/or principles that underpin the innovation (evidence-informed)?
  • The target group. Who is the innovation aimed at and who else might it benefit?
  • The current status of the educational innovation. In what phase is the initiative at the moment (in development, in progress, already completed)? If the innovation has already been or is currently being implemented, provide information on the context and scale. 
  • The envisioned further development and/or scaling up. How would a Comenius Leadership Fellowship or a Dutch Higher Education Award help the innovation to develop further?
  • Those involved in the educational innovation. Who are the main parties involved so far? Who is/are the main initiator(s)? How have they demonstrated that they have the skills and experience to take the initiative beyond its current scale and context? 
  • Alignment with strategic ambitions. Is the educational innovation in line with one or more of the ambitions formulated in Leiden's educational vision, Learning@LeidenUniversity, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science's strategic agenda for higher education and research, Fit for the Future, and/or the university's strategic plan, Innovating and Connecting? If so, which ambition(s) (number/key words)? If not, which ambition(s) could the innovation be linked to?

The Comenius programme is an innovation programme for higher education. The programme has three different Fellowships, or grants, – the Teaching Fellowship, the Senior Fellowship and the Leadership Fellowship – which differ in terms of implementation scale and duration and the minimum profile requirements of the principal applicant (lecturer). These Fellowships enable lecturers, in collaboration with a team, to put their ideas for educational innovation into practice. By awarding these Fellowships, the government is seeking to give visible recognition to excellent and inspired teaching.

An overview of previous successful projects in each category is available here.

The Comenius Leadership Fellowship is awarded for cutting-edge innovations driven by experienced educational innovators. Leadership projects focus on innovations that involve at least several faculties or institutions. Leadership fellows receive a budget of €500,000 for a project that lasts at least 36 and at most 42 months. The lead applicant also becomes a member of the ComeniusNetwork. Each institution may submit one proposal; the Rector decides which proposal to submit after consulting the Vice-Deans. Applications must be in line with the university’s vision on education.

The call for the next round (2023) is expected to be announced at the start of June 2022. Until that time, the previous call (2022) gives prospective applicants an idea of what to expect.

The Dutch Higher Education Award is a relatively new award; it was introduced by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in 2021. The award is given in recognition and appreciation of educational teams at universities and universities of applied sciences who have made an exceptional contribution to the innovation and improvement of higher education.

Each institution may submit one nomination, which is selected by the Rector after consulting the Vice-Deans. The Dutch Higher Education Award is presented to three higher professional education teams and three university education teams; the highest award is €1.2 million, second place is €800,000 and third place is €500,000. These awards are intended to stimulate projects that innovate or improve higher education. You can read more about this award in the brochure for last year's round of nominations (2022). Information about the teams and projects that won first prize in 2021 can be found here. Information about the teams that have been nominated for the 2022 award is available here.

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